Secretary of Education Duncan Attends Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Roundtable With LaGuardia Graduates

Long Island City, NY—U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined leadership from LaGuardia Community College and Goldman Sachs to discuss the10,000 Small Businesses program, a partnership with LaGuardia Community College and the Goldman Sachs Foundation that helps small business owners grow their businesses and create jobs.  Program alumni also participated in the roundtable discussion held at the College on June 4.

To set the stage for the event, Margaret Spellings, former U.S. Secretary of Education and the event’s moderator, gave an overview of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, a $500 million investment to help small businesses acquire the skills and knowledge they need by providing them with a “best-in-class,” curriculum that covers accounting, marketing and selling, negotiating, hiring and the creation of a growth plan; business support services; and financial capital.  LaGuardia was the first community college in the nation Goldman Sachs selected for the program.

Ms. Spellings pointed out that the initiative is active in New York, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston and Long Beach.  Across the program, approximately 75% of the graduates are seeing an increase in their revenues, more than 50% are creating new jobs, and the participants are developing an incredible network between small businesses owners. The program has a 99% graduation rate across all sites.

Secretary Duncan participated in a discussion with 11 scholars about how Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses transformed their small businesses. 

He heard from Rhys Powell, the founder and President of Red Rabbit, a Harlem-based company that provides health meals for children at more than 70 schools in the New York area, on how the management module provided him with the skills he needed to manage a business that quickly grew from 13 employees to 31. 

Daniel Levy, the founder and owner of Manhattan Home Designs, a modern furniture outlet, explained that by applying the knowledge he garnered from the module on government contracting he received his first New York City government contract to provide the bistro tables and chairs on the Times Square plaza.  Since then he was awarded contracts from the Department of Corrections and the Department of Transportation.  His business’s growth caught the attention of the U.S Small Business Administration, which awarded him its 2012 Entrepreneurial Success Award of the Year.

And Laura Catana, the owner of City Gardens of New York, a full-service landscaping design firm, who came to the program with no business background, said that the program helped her to act and think like a CEO, and taught her how to analyze her business, which has made a profit in the first time in four years. 

“What you see taking place in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program is incredible,” said Dr. Gail O. Mellow, President of LaGuardia Community College.  “Overnight these entrepreneurs are able to transform their businesses which is leading to increased revenues and job creation.  It is exactly what our city and our nation needs to jumpstart our economy.”

“I have never seen such a program that has such an impact,” said Jane Schulman, LaGuardia’s Vice President of Adult and Continuing Education, who oversees the program.  “What we say, is that small business owners learn something on Saturday and then implement it in their business the next week. But more important, they come back with results so they can do an analysis and then make adjustments.”

Along with the solid curriculum, the scholars all agreed that the peer-to-peer learning was a strong educational tool.

Monique Greenwood, owner and CEO of Akwaaba Bed & Breakfast Inns, said that she established a business-to-business network with several scholars who provide cleaning services, event planning and catering.  “Owning a business is often a solitary experience,” she said.  “The program provides its scholars with a valuable support network.”

Mr. Powell echoed that sentiment.  “I have a Rolodex that has 28 businesses and they are my peers, my partners,” he said.  “I am a part of a fraternity of business owners that is helping to shape the economy.  We are the next generation of business owners.”

Clearly impressed by the scholars’ presentations, Secretary Duncan stated, “It is a tough, tough climate out there and you are experiencing what a lot of folks aren’t.  It is a testament to your hard work, your courage.  Being a CEO of your own company is pretty remarkable and you are living it.”

He thanked Goldman Sachs for making its extraordinary investment in small businesses and its team for its resources, ideas and capital.  The Secretary spoke of the Administration’s strong support for community colleges, then turned to LaGuardia and hailed it for helping its students take the next step up the economic ladder.  “I appreciate this public-private partnership that is making a difference,” he said.  “What you are doing together is pretty inspiring and I appreciate the creativity.”

Dina H. Powell, President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, thanked Secretary Duncan for his support of community colleges and said the company was proud to be the largest corporate investor in community colleges across the country and building this capacity to leading entrepreneurial education. 

She went on to express her enthusiasm for selecting LaGuardia as its first partner.

“We are thrilled to be working across the nation, but we could not have selected a better partner whose leaders, President Gail Mellow and Vice President Jane Schulman—ensured that the first pilot went well.”

”What Goldman Sachs taught the College and taught the scholars is that there are different ways to think about education,” said Dr. Mellow. “The challenge for us is to rethink how we teach, and the context in which we teach, and the way in which theory and practice are not disparate, but a continuum.”

To learn more about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative at LaGuardia Community College, please:


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About Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses:

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is an initiative to unlock the growth and job creation potential of 10,000 small businesses across the United States through greater access to business education, financial capital, and business support services. The program operates through a national network of public and private partner organizations including community colleges, business schools and Community Development Financial Institutions. The initiative is currently active in New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Long Beach, Los Angeles, and New Orleans, and will continue to expand to communities across the country. Community partners in New York City include The City of New York, LaGuardia Community College and Seedco Financial Services.

 About LaGuardia Community College:

LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit to learn more.